This entry is part [part not set] of 39 in the series 40 years online

“Free, open and participatory” is the social web’s equivalent to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That’s what I argue in the latest installment of One 40-year-old, which appears today on the Harvard Business Review site. My latest post looks at a 1987 controversy over the structure of Usenet (news groups), known as the Great Renaming. All those years ago, you could see the principles that would shape today’s social web:

It should come as no surprise that we expect the web to be free, open and participatory: after all, these are words that are widely bandied about in discussions of social media best practices and business 2.0. But it’s crucial to recognize that these principles are no passing fad, invented by us as a result of some Facebook spat or Verizon business decision. Nor are they the high hopes of a new and idealistic medium. In fact, they’re the same principles that have always bubbled to the surface on the social Web, even a quarter-century ago with the Great Renaming.

You can read more about how these principles played out in 1987, and how they’re playing out today, in The Core Tenets of the Social Web, 25 years in the making.

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